The Kite Runner
In many societies, differences in religion and history can cause a social rift and create a structure of classes. This separation between people can affect the circumstances they are subject to and essentially how they live their life. However an individual’s outlook on life and the positive and negative thoughts he or she acquires are dependant solely on his or her decisions and outside forces. In the novel, The Kite Runner, the author Khaled Hosseini tells the story of an Afgan boy who struggles with the emotional consequences of a childhood decision that set him on a search for redemption. The author shows that classism determines the quality of one’s lifestyle but not the emotional state of mind one possesses. This is established through the social setting in the novel which enforces classist ideals that rigidly cast individuals into certain roles and determine the way they are treated. Next, the character of Amir’s childhood friend and servant, Hassan, undergoes a grim change as a result of a traumatic incident rather then a consequence of his social standing and material worth. Finally, Amir consistently battles with an internal conflict and guilt after betraying Hassan despite living a privileged and financially-comfortable life.
The religious segregation of the Afghan people creates a classist social setting which shapes the lifestyle and expectations of those within it. One of the most evident cases of division based on social class in the novel is the difference in roles between Amir and his childhood friend Hassan. Due to the fact that they originate from different religious backgrounds, they are plunged into vastly opposite social classes ever since birth and despite forming a strong friendship, this division was a continuous reality that society would not let them dismiss: “Never mind any of those things. Because history isn’t easy to overcome. Neither is religion. In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara, I was Sunni and he was Shi’a, and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing” (27). This shows that even though Hassan and Amir grow up together and become great friends, the religious distinctions present in the Afghan society would never allow them to be equals. These divisions are deeply embedded into the social conduct that these two groups of people are suppose to exhibit and the social expectations that stem from them make it impossible for Amir to treat Hassan on the same level as himself and unusual to consider him as more than just a servant. These class distinctions also shape the duties an individual has to take on. Ones class determines one’s lifestyle which is shown through the servant role Hassan’s Hazara family must assume as they serve Amir’s Pashtun family: “While I ate and complained about homework, Hassan made my bed, polished my shoes, ironed my outfit for the day, packed my books and pencils” (29). This shows that individuals who are of Hazara status are inevitably considered of less importance compared to the Pashtuns and it is acceptable to treat them as inferior. As a servant to Amir’s family, Hassan has to do many undesirable chores for Amir and does not get to indulge in the comfort of not having to do physical work like Amir. In addition, he is also deprived of an education and the same academic opportunities that Amir is able to enjoy because it is not necessary for the work he does. This is the norm in Afghanistan because the collective opinion is that Hazara individuals have less value than their Pashtun counterparts and along with that comes societal expectations that they should in turn be treated as inferiors and serve those above them in social status. The religious differences between the Hazara and Pashtun ethnicities create a rigid social setting in which members are expected to abide by their predetermined roles and are treated accordingly. This dramatically affects the quality of one’s life because being cast to a lower social class...
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